Saturday, June 13, 2009
Courthouse judges Beer Dinner Beer-er-iffic!
A cold Melbourne evening and a froth-chilling wind greeted twenty brave souls who ventured into the Courthouse Restaurant last night for the year’s first Beer Dinner. Most had not been to any of our now famous events – some had not heard of anything like it – but all were willing to take the plunge.
Five beers and four food courses matched to each frothy offering awaited the diners along with a Prof. Pilsner guided tour of beer history. The theme of this dinner was (loosely) Autumn/Winter type beers and, as all the guests were in the ‘know a little but not a lot about beer’ category, we began with some milder, less confronting beers and moved through to some warmer, rounder ales to finish.
A clean palate-prepping Krusovice Imperial lager began the night while we chatted about beer in general, gauging the level of beer-experience of the group, before challenging their palates with a Matilda Bay Fat Yak. This was matched with a spicy chicken entree with a creamy mayo sauce which highlighted nicely the cleansing nature of the Yak as well as the ability of its floral, passionfrity notes to complement the spiciness.
Having managed to NOT scare any of them off up to this point, we moved onto a crisp and rich pork belly course with Asian sauce with partnered surprisingly well with a Cascade First Harvest Ale. The relative merits of the different hops creating the bitterness, flavour and aroma were discussed in a very informal and entertaining way – their words, not mine! – and the full-ish body of Cascade’s eighth limited release was well received.
A warming, home-style lamb shank main course was married with Barons ESB and my initial fears that these might ‘clash’ were proven to be unfounded as the toasty caramel notes of the ale blended beautifully with the depth of flavour in the lamb while the overall mellowness of the beer was not overpowering for the absence of high-end flavours in the dish. Sometimes beer just surprises me.
When Timo and I first planned the menu, we decided to lean away from trying to pair a beer with a dessert, especially as we were unable to beg, borrow or steal enough stock of Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter to go with what we had in mind. But after Paul and Adam out at Purvis Cellars scrounged up the last of their stock of Young’s Christmas Pudding Ales we changed tack and scrounged up a collection of Christmas puds to go with it. The dried fruit and chocolate-y undertones in the ale were a fine counterpoint to the ‘Grandma-ness’of the desserts.
It’s fair to say that the guests all enjoyed their first Courthouse Beer Dinner ex-beer-ience with several suggesting that a monthly dinner might be more fitting than a seasonal thing. Don’t know if I can do this every month – watching while other people enjoy a selection of beers and matched food courses and not drinking and eating the same is harder than it looks – but maybe we can twist Timo’s arm and make them a little more frequent at least!
Looking forward to shopping (and taste-testing) for the next instalment already!
P.S. As I wrote this a little tired I would like to apologise for the use of the following terms in a beer related post; passionfruity, chocolate-ty undertones, notes and Grandma-ness.